Todd Phillips, the director of the grim new comic book film, Joker, railed against the “far-left” cancel culture as his film is criticized by some as being too dark and violent.
Phillips’ version of the comic book character is a stark and more realistic portrayal of a man descending into madness and murder. While some critics have said the film may cause violence, Phillips has defended the Joker and in no uncertain terms criticized the leftists who are only looking for things to get angry about.
“I think it’s because outrage is a commodity, I think it’s something that has been a commodity for a while,” Phillips told The Wrap. “What’s outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda. It’s really been eye-opening for me.”
“We didn’t make the movie to push buttons,” the Hangover director added.
In fact, Phillips says he saw his latest project as a way to make a “real movie” under the guise of a comic book film.
“Look at this as a way to sneak a real movie in the studio system under the guise of a comic book film,” Phillips said of his conversation with his star Joaquin Phoenix. “It wasn’t, ‘We want to glorify this behavior.’ It was literally like ‘Let’s make a real movie with a real budget, and we’ll call it fucking Joker.’ That’s what it was.”
The Warner Bros. film has already raised controversy as the theater that suffered a mass shooting during a showing of the 2012 Batman flick, The Dark Knight Rises, announced that it would not show Joker for fear of a copycat incident.
On top of the theater and the studio both agreeing not to show the film, the families of the victims of the 2012 shooting also chimed in with an open letter criticizing the film and calling on the studio to oppose the National Rifle Association and push Congress to enact more anti-gun laws.
For his part, Phoenix, the film’s star, slammed those criticizing the movie before it even premiers.
“Well, I think that, for most of us, you’re able to tell the difference between right and wrong,” Phoenix said at a press conference. “And those that aren’t are capable of interpreting anything in the way that they may want to. People misinterpret lyrics from songs. They misinterpret passages from books. So I don’t think it’s the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong. I mean, to me, I think that that’s obvious.”
The actor was incensed by the constant attacks on the film, so much so that he walked out on an interview when a reporter asked him if the film might “perversely end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it’s about, with potentially tragic results.”
But the controversy continued. The U.S. Army in Oklahoma warned this week of a possible shooting inspired by the film. Officers said they were informed by the FBI of “disturbing and very specific chatter in the dark web” that indicated a possible shooting.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.